The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) has been in charge of administering all “state prisons, juvenile centers and adult and juvenile parole services” since its creation in 1970. It has been entrusted with mission of protecting “the public from criminal offenders through a system of incarceration and supervision which securely segregates offenders from society, assures offenders of their constitutional rights and maintains programs to enhance the success of offenders’ reentry into society.”
It was only on July 1, 2006 that a separate body, the Department of Juvenile Justice, was established to take over the administration of the juvenile corrections system. When IDOC was established in 1970, there were only seven adult facilities in the state of Illinois. However, the implementation of stricter laws, which has resulted to the sentencing of more offenders and saw the need for more prison facilities, have likewise increased the total number of adult correctional centers in the state to twenty-eight. Aside from the correctional centers, IDOC also established a number of transition centers and boot camps (Illinois Department of Corrections).
Consequently, the resources needed to administer the system had to be increased over the years. For instance, in 1995, IDOC had been operating on a budget of $705 million. By 2005, its budget had been raised to $1.2 billion (The Pew Charitable Trusts). For Fiscal Year 2009, the budget which has been recommended for IDOC is $1.32 billion. This amount is for the services of its 11,000 employees and the expenses needed for the administration and maintenance of its 28 adult correction facilities and eight adult transition centers (ATC). Aside from managing around 45,000 adult inmates, the agency is also supervising some 35,000 parolees (IDOC).
There are eight security levels in the prison system of the state. Level 1 is for “maximum security” inmates. There are seven maximum security compounds in Illinois. These are the correctional centers in Dwight, Menard, Pontiac, Stateville, Tamms, Thomson, and the psychiatric unit in Dixon. The four correctional centers in Hill, Lawrence, Pinckneyville, and Western Illinois are rated level 2 for “secure medium security.” Meanwhile, level 3 for “high medium security” has been given to the correctional centers in Big Muddy River, Danville, Dixon, Illinois River, and Shawnee, the medium-security units of Menard and Pontiac, and the Dixon Special Treatment Center.
The correctional centers in Centralia, Decatur, Graham, Lincoln, Logan, and Sheridan have been rated level 4 for “medium security” while the rating of level 5 for “high minimum security” was granted to the Jacksonville, Robinson, and Taylorville correctional centers. Level 6 or “minimum security” is the rating of the correctional centers located in East Moline, Southwestern Illinois, Vandalia, and Vienna. Meanwhile, the work camps are rated level 7 or “low minimum security.”
They are found in Clayton, East Moline, Green County, Hardin County, Pittsfield, Springfield, Southwestern Illinois, and Vandalia. The Impact Incarceration Programs of Dixon Springs and DuQuoin have also been classified low minimum security as are the minimum-security units being maintained in Kankakee, Stateville, and Tamms. Finally, the eight transition centers are rated level 8 for “transitional security.” These ATCs could be found in Crossroads, Decatur, Fox Valley, Jessie “Ma” Houston, North Lawndale, Peoria, Southern Illinois, and West Side (IDOC).
The rate of recidivism in the state was a high 54.4 percent in 2003. For this reason, the state implemented a reform plan in 2005 for the specific purpose of reducing recidivism. Under the plan, the state would double the number of its parole officers so that their caseload would effectively be reduced. The net result would not only be increased monitoring and supervision but parole officers would also be able to “target high-risk parolees with services and surveillance” (The Pew Charitable Trusts).
Consequently, recidivism in Illinois decreased to 52.3 percent in 2008 (IDOC). Observers, however, have been disturbed by the fact nine African Americans have been found to be incarcerated for every single white American. This discovery is considered critical in evaluating the state of the criminal justice of Illinois. Its prisons are also considered to be among the most crowded in the country with an occupancy rate of 133 percent of capacity (The Pew Charitable Trusts).